I used to be a very picky eater as a kid. My siblings as well. To this day, though we are all grown adults now, my stepdad still doesn’t like to have spaghetti for dinner because we requested it so much.
BUT. But. Every summer, we would go into the garden and eat fresh-picked green beans and peas like candy. I have no idea how our parents got us to do that. I don’t even know if any beans made it to the kitchen with three kids packing them away.
Fast forward twenty years and I still love green beans. This bright and tasty green bean salad combines fresh blanched green beans with walnuts and a simple vinaigrette.
For choosing green beans, when you bend them you want them to snap, which ensures that they are fresh. If the bean bends, I would only use it in a soup.
In this recipe the green beans are quickly blanched in boiling water and then cooled in an ice bath to stop the cooking. I usually dice the onion and walnuts while I am waiting for the pot of water to boil. Also I usually prep the ice bath – does anyone else think it’s funny to call it a bath? – while the green beans are blanching.
After their bath, you toss the green beans with olive oil, balsamic, red onions, and walnuts. You can toast the walnuts for added nuttiness or toss them in raw.
The ice bath is an important step to keep the green beans from turning an unappealing olive color. This can also happen if you cook them for too long. This is the same reason that we first coat the beans in olive oil, and then balsamic vinegar. It’s all about the details. No one really wants to eat green beans that overdone.
Because you are only actually cooking for 2-3 minutes, this recipe is easy to put together in a hurry. It can complement almost any entrée, and is also good served cold. In fact sometimes I make this ahead of time, say in the early afternoon, and store it in the refrigerator to take out at dinner.
Now, there is the argument that: wait a minute, aren’t green beans legumes and therefore not Paleo?! (Gasp.) Well, here is where we get technical. Green beans are technically legumes, which are restricted from the Paleo diet mainly because of the problems that lectins can lead to with digestion. However, green beans are much lower in carbohydrates and lectin than other beans. They can also be eaten fresh, unlike most other beans, which are dried and therefore harder to digest. So, therefore, thus, in conclusion, I believe green beans are okay to eat. And if all that didn’t convince you, Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson both say they’re cool. So next time you’re looking for a quick and easy side dish, look no further.
- 1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut to 3 inch long pieces
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 2-3 minutes. The beans should be just barely cooked through and still crisp. Prepare a large bowl of ice water while the beans are cooking. Remove beans from hot water and place into ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain.
- Place the green beans and red onion in a large bowl. Toss in the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle in the balsamic and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with chopped walnuts to serve.
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